Friday, February 15, 2019

Amazon says goodbye New York, New York...

"Give us the three billion and we'll invest it" said Representative Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez earlier.  She was referring to the incentives that New York state and city had agreed to give Amazon to build an East Coast headquarters and hire 25,000 people in Long Island City, Queens.  The young activist media magnet was talking trash.  There is no three billion sitting around.  Those were primarily tax abatements related to future earnings of Amazon.  They don't exist without the deal.

The hugely ambitious State Senator Michael Gianaris, another major opponent of the deal said, "Even by their own words, Amazon admits they will grow their presence in New York without their promised subsidies."  Yes, they will, maybe as many as five thousand jobs in the coming years in Manhattan, Brooklyn, and Staten Island.  They are already in the Tribeca part of Manhattan and have a huge sorting facility on Staten Island.

Mayor Bill de Blasio, a well meaning and accomplished nitwit, said, to paraphrase, we gave Amazon the opportunity to work with the community and they threw it away.  What he actually said made less sense.

On January 31st, a post here on ENS, "Confused... equities, buildings, and jobs", briefly discussed the Amazon HQ opportunity and among other things said "Five minutes further out on the 7 Train there are tons of workers who would welcome these jobs."  That is unequivocally true. Many parts of Queens are not uniformly prosperous, as you survey a mosaic of Chinese, Dominican, Indian, Greek, Albanian, and many other Mets loving communities.

Governor Andrew Cuomo could not help himself, so disappointed that he told the truth, saying, "A small group of politicians and activists put their own narrow political interests above their community...", debatable opinion but a correct one.

When a major part of the outcry came down to a simple sound bite about one incentive being either the City agreeing to allow the rights for Amazon to build helipads on their buildings(NYT) or the City paying for the helipads(television commentators), small potatoes in the scheme of it all, the agreement became more troubled.  The thought here is that those politicos who opposed the deal and inflamed indignation saw it as a political win win.  Oppose, get recognition, claim responsibility for expected Amazon concessions, get national attention for standing up for the working people, and enhance their personal political futures.

Unfortunately it was not a game.  This is a huge lost opportunity.  That cannot be understated.  Young people growing up in the classic tenements in many parts of Queens and studying in the run down school systems have had a dream snatched away.  You can bet that their are more computer and tech savvy young workers in that area than anywhere near Arlington, Va. or Nashville, without question.

The enhancements were not unusual or grotesque.  They are an imperfect part of the process.  It could have worked.  Amazon decided that the harassment would not stop.  Game over.


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